SWANAGE’S hopes of preserving their Dorset Premier League status were dealt a severe blow when they suffered a crushing seven-wicket reverse at the hands of Stalbridge.

Defeat at Day’s Park left them nine points adrift at the foot of the table ahead of Saturday’s crucial showdown with relegation rivals Sherborne at The Terrace.

Swanage, skittled for just 89, could only muster a solitary bonus point against third-from-bottom Stalbridge, while Sherborne picked up five from their 97-run defeat at Poole Town.

Victory for Stalbridge hoisted them 49 points clear of the danger zone and almost certainly left Swanage and Sherborne to slug it out to avoid the one relegation place in the top tier.

Swanage had no answer as Stalbridge’s former Dorset opening bowler Steve Forshaw and Stuart Sweatman both claimed four wickets to help dismiss them for their lowest total of the season.

Only Craig Wells (20) and Jem Warner (13) managed to reach double figures as Forshaw (4-21) and Sweatman (4-50) tore through them.

And although Ben Hodder, Ryan Norman and Warner picked up a wicket apiece, the visitors breezed to 93 for three, thanks largely to George Coleman (36), who remained undefeated, and Seb Carty (27).